On Monday, March 24, the U.S. Department of State hosted the “Showcasing the Bioeconomy: The Future is Now” biotechnology conference attended by over 150 members of the diplomatic corps, researchers, and U.S. policy makers.
The conference focused on innovations in three areas - agricultural, health, and industrial biotechnology - with speakers discussing opportunities for job growth and economic development presented by the global bioeconomy, the current policy climate, and regulatory trends.
During opening remarks, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs William E. Craft underscored the importance of innovation and new technology as part of Secretary Kerry’s Shared Prosperity Agenda. White House Assistant Director of Biotechnology Mike Stebbins highlighted the White House’s National Bioeconomy Blueprint and its new developments in synthetic biology, proteomics, and bioinformatics.
On agricultural biotechnology, speakers highlighted innovations which include the “no-browning apple” that reduces food waste, a glowing plant that helps communities living with little or no electricity resources, and genetically-engineered insects that reduce disease and crop damage.
Researchers and innovators in the health bioeconomy discussed their discoveries in cancer detection and targeted approaches for developing countries. The participants described the importance of health innovation and the need for low-cost solutions to address current public health concerns.
On industrial biotechnology, speakers highlighted new ways of mining minerals using genetically modified microbes, designing organisms on demand using synthetic biology, and the uses of 3D printing to create novel devices.
Expert panels throughout the day examined overarching themes such as intellectual property, data management, education, and regulatory hurdles.
During closing remarks, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Kerri-Ann Jones highlighted ways the Department of State prioritizes science, innovation and entrepreneurship to solve problems and stimulate economic growth.